Awesome art direction
Unique level and character design
Low encounter rates.
Necropolis? More Like Not-Feeling-Well-Village
Procedurally generated rogue likes are starting to see a resurgence in recent years, but many don’t go the extra mile to include a Dungeons and Dragons type setting where more monsters appear on each level of a never ending descent. Necropolis is trying to merge the two formats and provide that random levels, while having to hack and slash your ways to get to that sweet, sweet loot through hordes of monsters.
The major obvious note of this new title from Hairbrained Schemes is the very cool art direction and style. Lots of hard angles and dark colors with menacing shadows definitely give it a dungeon look, while staying away from the overused brick hallways that you see all the time. Even the protagonists, which there are a few to choose from, are draped in hoods and cloths that obscure their very identity, just making it a bit more mysterious in a cool way. It’s a neat mix of retro graphics look with modern animation that makes it stand out from others.
Having multiple characters is a staple of RPGs, and the option is a nice touch. That said, there should be more than just the name of the character and its palette swap clothing to choose from. Some idea of a background or an explanation of any differences between them would have been nice. Most RPGs have lots of characters so that each player has a pro and con for each type, and can share their different experiences with their friends, thus making the beginnings of a well-balanced party. Being a solo character is just fine too, but if you’re going to give options, you can’t just stop half way and not provide any difference in your gameplay.
Along with the cool art style, their sense of humor is not missing in this world. The narrator, who is not rooting for you, demeans you when you die, and even lies on purpose to mess you up and always speaks in an unintelligible garble that gets translated. It’s a nice throwback to earlier games, and it’s a cool way keep the gamer immersed while running for his life. Dying will be a very large part of the game, as it plays by Dark Souls rules of death all the time but you keep your items and some experience. That said, when you die here you have to START ALL OVER, so it’s also got retro gaming rules from the “cartridge game” ages.
The monsters you encounter are cool and are pretty different from each other so to keep the gameplay fresh, but the major downside is the lack of enemies in total. There are huge rooms and levels where you cannot find anyone for a while or maybe just fight two or three to a huge room and I couldn’t help but wonder if had already cleared the room or not since I kept expecting more. The low encounter rate aside, the actual combat can be really frustrating due to the imprecise hit boxes on each enemy, and tank controls for your character. It feels like your moving through water while everyone else is moving at super speed and it’s just so annoying to have the skill to avoid something, your avatar just sort of turn a bit to the side. The lag and bad controls really take away a lot from something that could have been so much more.
Necropolis is a cool looking, low performing, funny, annoying, grab bag of good and bad ideas. If you’re more into the look of your games, then go ahead, but if you are expecting Devil May Cry perfection of control, then look elsewhere. It’s a good causal game that really feeds that “just one more time” mentality of most gamers, and it’s got enough heart and feeling to it just make it worth your while.